Shakespeare's Globe

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In his final blog post Danny discusses his impressions of the audiences, their responses to the play, and his view on reading reviews.

Transcript of Podcast

Initial impression of the audience

The great thing is that that as soon as the audience is in, even if you’re previewing, I feel that it’s begun; so on the opening night, where everyone’s kind of stressed, it didn’t affect me as much as I thought it would in terms of nerves, because we’d been running for a week, and to me it had already begun. The preview audience was very kind as well, so there were lots of people there already supportive of the first couple of previews. But getting that audience for the first time was absolutely terrifying, I’d never experienced being on a professional stage before, and listening to the tannoy and hearing the audience come in as I was sitting in my dressing room is one of the most fear evoking things I can think of. It was a very difficult performance for the first previews, I felt out of body, so much so that I could remember things and when I came off stage I kept giving myself notes on what worked or didn’t work.

The response of the audience

What’s been passed on to me from the experience of being an usher watching performances at the Royal Court is the sense that, when people really get the play, they feel free to verbally respond, and so I don’t mind when people are talking about the play in the performance. There was a baby crying yesterday, there’s been people fainting, there’s been people walking out, there’s been people standing at the side of the stage not understanding a word because they don’t know the language – you get all types coming to see the play, and I think to actually moan about that fact is ridiculous; it should be celebrated. This play was written around 1603 to 1606, and when it was performed, I’m sure the actors on stage were dealing with many more stressful things than helicopters, and while it can get you down as an actor when there’s a helicopter, it’s not the be all and end all, as people make it out to be.

Groups within the audience

The audience is continuously mixed. One of the main groups that the Globe gets is tourists; they want a good time, and I find playing to them is a lot easier than it is playing to our own. It’s very interesting, because Americans in particular are very responsive. I have people saying to me, ‘I didn’t quite get all of the play, but I thought it was just wonderful’, and they show their appreciation – sometimes in the middle of scenes – and I think that’s great. But our own audience, us Brits, are much more reticent, and that can keep you on your toes. I just find it fascinating the difference between the two. I was at a show in New York and the audience was so responsive that, at the end, their appreciation was tangible, and I’ve been sat in audiences here where people have equally enjoyed the performance and its been given a luke warm reception at the end. After that show, I was talking to someone and I asked if they liked it and they were like, ‘It was amazing, the most amazing beautiful and profound thing I’ve ever seen’, but they didn’t show it in the theatre. But the Globe’s a great place to perform because you do get that response which you don’t always get on Shaftesbury Avenue.

One of the most encouraging things is when you see children watching it attentively, (although when they’re watching it and talking about their iPods that can be distracting). But the encouraging thing is seeing kids there, because I think children, and particularly teenagers, are given quite a rough ride by society and by the media particularly. And when you look out into the yard, and you see them making these connections with things – whether they’ve actually been pierced by the plight of this man who has learnt through great tragedy to hold onto the things that mean something in life, or whether they want to ask me a really mundane question about where I got my coxcomb from (which I’ve had!) – it’s delightful, because it means a connection has been made.

After the previews

We’ve been running for over two weeks now, so we’ve done twenty-two performances. I don’t want to say I’ve found my Fool, but I’ve found something which I seem to be giving at the moment. I don’t really delve too far into my own head thinking about what that something is, because the moment I do, it’s destroyed. The performance is fixed, in the sense that I know the general choreography of the part, and I suppose with voice it’s fixed, as I know where to pitch certain things to try to make things land. You settle into a routine.

Reviews

I haven’t read the reviews. I think the Globe has quite a tough time when it comes to that, and I’ve been quite angered in the past with people who give the Globe a tough time. I read one review in which a critic was actually reviewing the audience and talking about how his experience was spoilt by the people in front of him. I just think it’s sad that critics like that can’t use their imagination. It’s interesting, because in the western world, we go to the theatre, sit down in the dark facing the Proscenium arch in silence, regimented – everything’s planned out – whereas here, anything can happen.

 

These comments are the actor's thoughts or ideas about the part as he goes through the rehearsal process – they are simply his own interpretations and frequently change as the rehearsal process progresses.

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